Ebola doc goes home

Mayor de Blasio applauded the work of both Dr Spencer in Africa and the Bellevue medics (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Mayor de Blasio applauded the work of both Dr Spencer in Africa and the Bellevue medics (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mayor Bill de Blasio was at Bellevue Hospital as Dr. Craig Spencer, New York City’s first and only case of Ebola, was discharged on Tuesday morning.

“Dr. Spencer is Ebola free and New York is Ebola free,” the mayor announced at the news conference, attended by Spencer, his parents and the team of doctors and nurses who were responsible for his care.

Mayor de Blasio emphasized the importance of the work that Spencer had been doing in Guinea before he returned to New York. “It’s a good feeling to hug a hero, and he is a hero,” the mayor said.

Dr. Ram Raju, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), echoed this sentiment.

“I’m elated because we could treat and cure a hero and Dr. Spencer personified this,” he said. “Had he not contracted Ebola, few people would ever have known him and there are many more like him. They are the heroes of our time.”

Spencer, in turn, tried to bring the focus away from himself and back to the efforts in West Africa where doctors are still fighting the virus.

“My infection represents but a fraction of the more than 13,000 reported cases to date in West Africa,” he said, recounting the sadness he felt when holding infected children and the joy he felt when patients were cured. “I will not be commenting publicly beyond this and urge you to focus on the source of the outbreak.”

Mayor de Blasio praised the city’s ability to stay calm throughout Spencer’s recovery, noting that New Yorkers were able to turn to Spencer’s calm demeanor throughout the ordeal. However, he said that in the midst of this, some needed to be reminded not to stigmatize those who are only trying to help.

“We’ve seen the good through the people who work (at Bellevue) but we have also seen people treated badly,” he said. “You never discriminate against someone for helping others. Some of our fellow New Yorkers (from the three West African nations where Ebola has spread) have been stigmatized because of where they come from. That is un-American.”

Spencer was admitted to Bellevue with symptoms of Ebola on October 23. He had returned from Guinea after five weeks there taking care of patients with the virus. His condition was serious while at Bellevue, but Mayor de Blasio said that by reporting his fever as soon as possible, he “did everything right” in helping his recovery.

Following Spencer’s release, First Lady Chirlane McCray announced that there is a new Mayor’s Fund effort dedicated to raising funds to fight Ebola.

“New Yorkers have a special appreciation for Dr. Craig Spencer, the nurses who cared for him and all medical first responders,” McCray said in a statement. “Like our city’s brave police officers and firefighters, they rush toward danger in order to advance the greater good.”

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One thought on “Ebola doc goes home

  1. I am very glad that Dr. Spencer has been cured and is now Ebola-free, butI do wish he had gone into quarantine for a few days before flying home and going all over the City before he came down with the virus. The reason I feel this way is because I heard on the news tonight that a doctor who had been working with the victims of this horrendous disease and was sent to a facility in Nebraska for treatment, died earlier today. This doctor had tested negative for the virus and it turned out to be a false negative, thus delaying his treatment. I find it rather troubling that false negative test results may mean that someone thinks they are ok and may, in fact, be very sick and highly infectious. Obviously, this is a very tricky and deceptive disease!

    I don’t think it is too much to ask that people who have been exposed to the virus, no matter how noble their work with the victims of the epidemic, just stay in quarantine for a few days after they leave those high-risk, sealed-off areas. Surely a few more days in Africa in a safe and monitored environment before flying home and potentially exposing fellow-passengers on the planes and then large populations such as New York is worth the inconvenience.

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